Blowing Things Up

Trip Start Feb 16, 2007
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Potosi used to be South America's biggest and wealthiest city due to the silver mines in Cerro Rico which overlooks the city.  It is the world's highest city at a staggering 13,400ft.

Our sole purpose in going to Potosi was to go check out the mines and set off some dynamite.  We arrived on a Sunday and the mine was closed so we booked a bus to Sucre for the following night and a mine tour for the morning.  We just hung out during the day and checked the city out.  There isn't too much to see in the city.  It does have a few paved roads though, which were the first ones we had seen since we had been in Bolivia (our bus ride there was on some horrible dirt roads).  There was some sort of marathon going on in the morning.  I don't know how people were running at that high of an altitude.  I was laboring just walking up the hills.  We were also told that the local soccer team hasn't lost a home game in a few years (they have quite an advantage practicing at that altitude).  We didn't get that warm of a welcome in Potosi.  We were actually refused service at a couple of restaurants (they didn't like the gringos).

The next morning we woke up early to head to the mines.  The mine tour starts off with the group going to the miners street market where you buy gifts for the miners.  The gifts include coco leaves (which are horrible), cokes, cigarettes, dynamite, and liquor.  The liquor is 90% alcohol and tastes horrible as well.  The miners believe that if they drink pure alcohol that the devil will grant them pure minerals out of the mine so they drink it.  From the market they take you up to Cerro Rico and into the mines.  This  tour isn't for claustrophobes or asthmatics.  The hill is quite a bit higher than the city and once you are deep in the mine it gets pretty hard to breathe.  The temperature can also get up to 113 degrees.  It is difficult to navigate around in there.  The life span of the miners isn't that long, but the miners can make a lot more money there and anywhere else. 

After the tour our guide let us blow up some extra dynamite that we had bought for a whopping $3US.  If they sold this stuff back home, I never would have made it our of high school.  There wouldn't have been a mail box standing anywhere near my house.  I thought that the chlorine and brake fluid bombs were pretty good, but they didn't have anything on these. 

Well when we finished our tour we hurried to the bus station and caught a bus to Sucre.  The plan is to take a couple of Spanish lessons, (hopefully actually make it to class this time) find some friendlier locals, and actually do a little partying for a change.  With our Salta road trip and the Salt Flats we haven't had the opportunity to hardly go out.  We hope to actually see some descent looking ladies for a change as well. 
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